Author's Note: This was originally submitted for a ficathon on Live Journal's radish_love community. Please enjoy.
The Wrath of Wrackspurts
A half hour of silence into the session, and Harry found himself staring just a bit too long at the Healer's spectacles. They were far too big for her face; couple that with her wavy light brown hair, and she looked a bit much like Professor Trelawney for Harry's comfort. This was his third session; he had never placed much stock in 'Talking Therapy,' and had far too much to do at Auror headquarters to be bothered spending his evenings brooding. He could do that back at his empty flat, and it wouldn't cost him fifteen Galleons an hour.
"What are you thinking about, Harry?" was the way Healer McIntyre broke the silence.
"Oh, nothing in particular."
"Really?" Healer McIntyre tilted her head and affected a nearly comically puzzled look. "Well, guess I can't use Legilimency to pull it out of you; not if you've learned to clear your mind that well. We should talk about something though, don't you think?"
"What would you like to talk about?" Harry felt as though he were under a truth potion of some sort, although he purposefully hadn't ingested anything since entering Healer McIntyre's SoHo offices.
"Your friend says you've been having some problems since your divorce," Healer McIntyre continued. "He says you've been hiding out from the world in your new flat. Does that sound accurate?"
"Well, I have work to do, you know. The Auror Corps doesn't just run itself. Big cases coming in all the time. Frightfully dangerous work, long hours. And just because I've been the head of the Corps for eleven years doesn't mean I'm still not the youngest ever. Always need to be two steps ahead of the criminals, and one step in front of my subordinates."
"That's a rough life, Harry. Think that had anything to do with the divorce?"
"In retrospect, I'm certain Ginny was right about that – the divorce, I mean. I just was never fit to be a family man. Even 21 years after the end of The War, there I was, still sullen, moody and prone to jumping at the slightest noise. I'm not sure if my overly-enthusiastic use of the Stunning Spell on our pet Kneazle, Mr Fuzzykins, was the last straw or not, but regardless, I doubt Lily Luna's first ride on the Hogwarts Express had made it to Lancashire before Ginny had packed up all my belongings, siphoned off half our Gringotts vault, and suggested I might feel more comfortable sleeping in a different city from now on. And you know what? She was right about that, too.
"Of course there were certain advantages to my situation at that point. Half as rich as the richest family in Wizarding Britain is still obscenely wealthy, and 39 just isn't terribly old when one is rich, famous, and newly-divorced from – what did the Prophet call her? Oh, right: a shrewish ginger gold-digger who put the screech right back into the Harpies. Now, to be fair, when she was playing for the Harpies, she used more of a throaty holler than a screech. Then again, I've never been one to nitpick the press. But I digress."
"Harry? Is that some actual anger I hear in your voice? That's very healthy; why don't you continue on with that for awhile?" Harry exhaled and shook his head, defeated.
"I would, Healer McIntyre, but the break-up was entirely my fault, you see, really, and I have absolutely no reason to blame – Damn it. There I go again. Anyway, Ron did tell you I'm completely off my nut, right?"
"Mr Weasley may have put it a bit less delicately even than that, actually. But do go on."
"Yes, of course. Well, I've been a swinging divorcé for eight months now, had Hermione help me find a decadently large penthouse for sale in Knightsbridge, had the best interior designers and decorators spend thousands of Galleons to make it just gorgeous, but I can't get myself out of the office long enough to do anything but make a small snack and go to bed. There are shows, museums, shops and everything I could want right outside my door, I could have a different bird up there every night of the week, but I don't want any part of it, not while there are still Death Eaters about." Healer McIntyre looked quizzical.
"Harry? Are there still Death Eaters about? Honestly? The War was over 20 years ago. You won; isn't that enough?"
"Of course there are still Death Eaters about! We can't just go soft on them because it's been twenty years! Whatever happened to Constant Vigil-" A light seemed to either turn on or off in Harry's head as he considered the original question. "No, I suppose not. Well, there is one, but he's a little - a little odd, actually."
"Tell me about him."
"We went to school together. His name is Malfoy; perhaps you've heard of him? Anyway, during the war he was pretty pathetic playing the role of The Littlest Death Eater, terrorizing his fellows at Hogwarts. By the end, Voldemort had done his family fairly wrong, but even after his father renounced all his Pureblood Supremacy, Draco was not to be swayed. It's kind of sad, actually, but he just can't let go. He still goes to Hogwarts to terrorize the first and second year muggleborns. We catch him up there, bring him in for questioning, he spends a couple of weeks in holding, and then we let him go. Three or four times a year this happens. We have him now back at the Ministry."
"Sounds like a bad infestation of wrackspurts, Harry. Has he gone to have that looked at?"
Harry nearly jumped out of his chair in surprise. "Wrackspurts? How would you know about wrackspurts?"
Healer McIntyre walked to her desk and thumbed through a stack of magazines before pulling one out and handing it to Harry. "Here," she said. "The Quibbler had an entire article on the dangers of wrackspurts and their effect on mental health. It seems that they especially affect the pureblooded, but they've been known to infest the ears of half-bloods and muggleborn, too. Mr Malfoy's quite lucky to be English, you know. We have the world's foremost expert on wrackspurt infestations right here in Southern England."
"Luna Lovegood," Harry answered with a wistful, faraway look in his eyes.
"Yes, that's her," Healer McIntyre replied, handing Harry a magazine. "And that's the issue of The Quibbler which Madame Lovegood devoted to the dangers of wrackspurts. Inside is the recipe for a simple potion that when atomized in the direction of the afflicted allows anyone wearing spectrespecs to see the formerly invisible creatures. The free spectrespecs are still attached; I've had my own pair for years."
"Yes, well, one can't be too careful, I suppose," Harry said, creating a mental image of his staid, dowdy healer sporting a pair of brightly coloured spectrespecs.
"Quite," the healer replied, rolling up her parchment and standing. "And I'm afraid we're out of time today, Harry. Same time next week, then?"
Harry Potter flooed out of Healer McIntyre's office a confused man, deep in thought. Could it be possible, after all these years, that Malfoy's problem wasn't of his own making? Could Malfoy simply have been sick all these years, instead of just a conceited arse with a superiority complex? Okay, in addition to being a conceited arse with a superiority complex? Does any of that matter, Harry thought, or am I really just having too much fun irking ol' Ferret Face to want to let go of a good situation? And what did any of that have to do with my own psychotherapy? Did I really just pay some witch 15 Galleons to listen to me prattle on about Malfoy? None of this was resolved by the time Harry got to his office, and there he reckoned that it wouldn't be resolved at all until he went down to the Ministry holding cells and took a look at his old nemesis. Whilst looking through the spectrespecs. And trying to maintain some semblance of dignity.
"Right, Malfoy," Harry said when he'd made his way to the Ministry holding cells, after brewing up a phial of Wrackspurt Visibility Potion. "Let's hear it. You are going to ridicule me mercilessly for these spectacles, aren't you? Well, they could be the thing that will save your sorry -"
But there was no ridicule. Instead, Harry heard a soft sobbing coming from Malfoy's cell. Ignoring for the moment how ridiculously out of character it was for his Hogwarts antagonist to show any emotion whatsoever within a three mile radius of another human being; Harry removed the spectrespecs and softly walked over to investigate. There he saw a very despondent Draco Malfoy curled up in a fetal position, sobbing into his hands.
"What's this all about then, Malfoy? Little Scorpius wind up taking a half-blood to Hogsmeade this weekend?"
Draco rolled off of his cot dramatically, sprung onto his feet, wand in hand. Before Harry had a chance to arm himself, Draco called out "Sectumsempra!"
Harry ducked instinctively. He needn't have bothered, though, because instead of a vicious spell shooting out from Draco's wand, a bouquet of plastic daffodils issued forth, one of which turned towards Draco, and made a raspberry sound as its pistol vibrated back and forth within its stamens like a tongue. Draco threw the wand on the floor in disgust.
"So, how do you like our new wards, Malfoy?" Harry asked with a smirk."The Ministry contracted with George Weasley to set that one up. What, did you think we just forgot to take your wand from you during in processing?"
"Shove it, Potter," Draco spat back. "I'm in no mood for any of your cheek today, you pissant mongrel bastard son of a mudblooded whore." Harry chuckled.
"Not bad. I've not been called any of that since, oh, the last time we had the pleasure of your company. Now, what's got your knickers all twisted this time? One of those eleven-year-olds get a good shot in?"
"Ha. Like you'd understand."
"Look, last time I caught you crying unawares, you nearly died. Can we at least pretend we've grown up a bit in the two decades since?"
Draco looked ashen. At first, Harry was afraid he was presenting as someone who had nothing to live for, which in a prisoner was a particular nuisance, as it involved suicide watches and the paperwork that comes with them. Then he saw Draco break down, crumbling into a heap of sobs and wails."
"Astoria left me, Potter. Went to live with her sister while she sorts everything out. Told me I was hopelessly stuck in The War, and that she was embarrassed to be associated with me. My life is over. Over!"
"I thought her name was Asteria."
"No, it's Astoria," Draco said, composing himself. "Her father has family in New York, and insisted that she be named after the neighbourhood in which he'd had his first kebab. She was a good woman, Potter – still is, I imagine – but I guess I just couldn't..."
As Draco began to monologue dramatically to his cell's back wall, Harry sprayed the area in front of the bars with three short bursts of Wrackspurt Visibility Potion, slipped the spectrespecs from The Quibbler back over his glasses and was staring at him intently. Sure enough, there were wrackspurts by the thousands darting in and out of Draco's ears, much worse than any of the infestations described in the magazine. Harry smiled. He was about to do something selfless for someone who really, really didn't deserve it; an activity in which he enjoyed participating whenever possible. Remembering that Ginny would certainly disapprove of this blatant waste of his time, talents and energy made him all the more eager to help poor, tormented Draco.
"Malfoy, I think I know why you do these things..."
It took some doing, but Harry was finally able to convince Draco that the solution to his problem was a visit to Madame Lovegood's. It took a combination of telling him that this may be his only opportunity to avoid long-term jail time, threatening to teach each class of incoming firstie muggleborns his deadly Expelliarmus, and offering to take Draco to visit Luna himself, but eventually Draco saw the wisdom of Harry's plan and agreed to give Madame Lovegood's wrackspurt remedy a try.
This left Harry with the singularly awkward task of approaching an old school friend with whom he'd had no contact in over twenty years. Very few people master this skill; generally they wind up in sales positions or as travelling sideshow carnies, and Harry was certainly not material for either of those professions. He hadn't the least idea what to say or even how to say it. To come across as 'all business' would certainly discount the closeness they'd had while at school, and probably irreparably offend Luna. Yet to try to pretend that no time had passed seemed similarly tactless. He briefly considered finding a time-turner to go back and send Luna a message or two throughout the intervening decades, but realised he'd have to be married to Ginny whilst he was in the past, and he couldn't bear to put himself through that again.
Clouding his judgment in this matter were his lingering unresolved feelings for the former Ravenclaw. Luna had always been to Harry one of the 'ones that got away,' as he rushed into marriage with the former Miss Weasley. Of course at the time, she'd been far too flighty, and he'd been far too wrapped up in the war (and Cho) (and Ginny) for them to consider dating, or at least that's what he'd told himself both fifth and sixth years. And Luna was by no means the only 'one that got away;' something Harry was reminded of quite viscerally as he realised he'd been staring at Hannah Longbottom's more than ample bosom from across the Leaky Cauldron for the better part of three minutes whilst leisurely sipping on a goblet of mead. This earned him a wink and a blush from his former classmate as she sauntered over to spend some time with her favourite customer.
"S'not my fault, Hannah!" Harry sputtered, laughing. "You've got 'em half hanging out there like that; what's a bloke to do?"
"And one would think you've got a bit of a fixation, Harry, the way you're nursing on that mead there. Should I put a nipple on that goblet for ye, then?" Hannah retorted, swatting Harry playfully with her bar cloth. "So what's troubling you, now? Not seen you so pensive since you put little Jamie on the Hogwarts Express for the first time. Come now, love. Tell Auntie Hannah all about it."
"You're going to laugh."
"Well, of course I am, but that's never stopped you before."
"Alright. Do you remember a girl named Luna?"
"You mean Loony Lovegood? The dizzy bint what was always going on about nargles or some such nonsense? Aye, what about her? She was a friend of yours, if I'm not mistaken?"
"Right, that's her. I haven't spoken to her since Hogwarts you see, and now I'm in sort of a bind and need her help with something – "
"And you don't know how to stick your head in the Floo and call, 'sat it? Only one thing for you to do then, isn't there?"
"Yes, I know. I just need to –"
"Plonk yerself straight down in that chair 'til she comes wiggling her pert little arse through those doors there, what? And consider buying another mead while you're at it – need to keep up business and all."
"Hannah, you haven't seen her in twenty years either, how do you know her arse is still pert?"
"It's only been nineteen, Harry..." said Luna, as Harry nearly fell over himself getting up from his chair to greet his old friend. "But as you can see," she continued spinning on her toes with her arms extended like a fashion model, "my buttocks remain relatively untouched by the hand of gravity. At least I believe that's what two young labourers meant when one of them shouted to another 'Oi, betcha I could bounce a coin offa that arse, what?' at the construction site I passed walking over from Covent Garden. Hello, Hannah, lovely to see you again." Luna sat down with a vague, yet satisfied smile, not unlike the one Harry remembered so fondly from Hogwarts. Harry let loose a throaty chuckle.
"Why do I feel as though I'm being set up here, ladies?" he said, grinning broadly at Hannah and Luna.
"Wasn't me, love," Hannah said, getting up from the table and looking for something, anything to wipe down. "I'd no idea. Not that it's not lovely to see you too, Luna. Can I get ye something from the bar, then?"
"Oh, that mead does look delicious, Hannah, I'll have a goblet of that, too. And I do so love how you've redecorated the old Leaky. It certainly needed a witch's touch." Hannah left to fill Luna's order, which gave the two old friends a moment to catch up.
"Forgive me, Harry," Luna began, "but my dear friend Trip McIntyre said you might be in contact, and that one could usually find you here nights. I certainly didn't mean to alarm you."
"No, Luna, not at all. Honestly, I wouldn't have expected anything else."
"Trip mentioned something about a bad case of – oh, dear. You probably think it simply horrid of me to jump straight into business after all this time. Er, how've you been, Harry? How are the children? Has little Lily Luna been getting my birthday gifts? I'm sorry to hear about you and Ginny." Harry laughed uncomfortably.
"No, Luna, it's fine. If it makes you more comfortable, we can certainly talk business before we catch up. It's Malfoy, you see. Remember him? Anyway, I used that potion you developed and took a look at him through a set of spectrespecs Healer McIntyre gave me, and the poor wanker was simply infested with the things. Made his head look like a particularly active beehive."
"Quite. Anyway, I reckon that's why he's been such an arse since the war, so I was hoping you'd see if your wrackspurt remedy would work. Who knows, maybe he'll wind up turning out to be somewhat human."
"Oh, Harry. If he's as afflicted as you say, then it's not his fault at all that he's been so – so disturbed. Of course we'll take a look. Why don't you bring him by Thursday next? Do you know where my offices are, Harry?"
"No, I – " Luna grabbed Harry's hand suddenly, Apparating them both to the front door of a quaint, if quirky cottage in the Cornish countryside.
"It's about ten kilometres outside of Truro, Harry. Simply lovely out here, isn't it?"
"Of course," Harry said, warily. "But oughtn't we have paid for our drinks? We can't just –"
"Oh, I left a few Galleons on the table. But isn't that nice of you to think of such a thing? Won't you come inside?"
"Is this your home then, too?"
"Why do you think I brought you here?" Luna answered with a breezy smile. Harry smiled back and accepted her hand, following her around and in through the cottage's side door. Once inside, Harry looked around instinctively; making sure his back was never in direct sight of a window. He remarked on the cosiness of Luna's sitting room, with its overstuffed couch, high-backed chairs and a fireplace one didn't have to crouch to use. Harry jumped slightly as that fireplace sprung to life with a warm glow, along with several candles on the mantel and side tables. Luna came through shortly after with a bottle, two goblets and a mischievous grin.
"Don't know if you're a mead aficionado, Harry, but I've found this lovely bottle made from honey taken from bees that strictly pollinate gillyweed blossoms. Won't you sit down and we'll enjoy a bit of it?"
Harry took a seat on the overstuffed sofa, gently sniffing the mead and admiring the sitting room, deftly furnished in a modern, yet unmistakably Cornish style. The fireplace was built in hand-hewn quarry stone, there were exposed wooden beams in the ceiling and matching wooden bookshelves. The decor was so tidy, so well-composed, that Harry thought she might let it out summers as a holiday rental.
"Harry, I hope you don't think it too forward of me, but..." Harry calmly placed his goblet on the beechwood coffee table, and then leapt to his feet, pointing his wand at Luna while shouting "Incarcerous!"
"Harry?!" Luna exclaimed as she suddenly found herself tangled in magical bindings.
"Right. My fifth year, your fourth: After Sirius died, you comforted me by saying you heard something, too. What was it?"
"Harry, you're joking, right?"
"The nervousness, the innuendo laden remarks, knowledge of and access to fine meads, decor that looks like it comes from a magazine - who in the hell are you and what have you done with Luna Lovegood? If you've hurt her, so help me, I'll..."
"Harry, I told you I heard the voices behind the veil, too. Now, would you please unbind me and let me explain?"
"No, wait. That question was a bit too easy. Let's see... Ah, yes. With what did your father nearly destroy your childhood home?"
Luna looked as though someone had punched her in the stomach. She tilted her slate-grey doe eyes at Harry and softly answered, "Father thought he had run across a Crumpled-Horned Snorkack horn, but instead he had found an Erumpent horn. That nearly killed him, Harry."
Harry's demeanour took a rather dramatically softer tone. He unbound Luna and re-took his seat next to her on the couch. "Yes, well. Er, sorry about that?"
Luna took a set of fashionable, if gaudy, reading glasses out of a small case and placed them on her face, turning a knob on one of the earpieces. "Oh, yes. Well, of course. That makes sense," she said.
"You're nearly as infested with wrackspurts as you claim poor Mr Malfoy is. Oh my, they're just – they're everywhere. Have you had problems with tinnitus, Harry?"
"Well, yes, a bit. But the healers said it was – "
"Sod the healers, Harry, this is serious. We're going to need to take care of this right away. Sit right there, I'll go ahead and get things started." Harry made a mental note not to so quickly dismiss the sagacity of construction workers as he watched Luna retreat to what he supposed was her office. As she returned, it was apparent that she had instead gone to her bedroom, as she was now clad in a gauzy kimono. Harry's eyes widened and he took a rather large slug of his mead.
"Yes, Harry, do drink up," Luna said as she sat down next to him. "You'll want to relax a bit before we get started." As Harry finished his goblet, Luna untied the front of her kimono, placed Harry's goblet gently on the coffee table, and straddled Harry's lap, running her fingers through his hair.
"This isn't part of the process, is it?" Harry asked.
"Oh, no," Luna replied, gently moving Harry's face toward her bare breasts. "But you're not complaining, are you?" As it turns out, he wasn't.
"You set me up there, didn't you?" Harry asked Healer McIntyre the following Tuesday evening. "You told Luna exactly where to find me, and exactly what she'd have to do to get me to go back to her place, am I right?"
"And?" Healer McIntyre asked.
"Oh, the sex was brilliant, don't get me wrong. Seems like ages since I, well, anyway, that's not what concerns me. Do you have any idea what kind of a security breach that was? You really can't just go around telling folks where the Head Auror spends his evenings and how to get him back to your place to have it off with him? Someone could have followed, or been tipped off or –"
Healer McIntyre put a hand up to halt Harry mid-rant. "You forgot to work on the wrackspurts didn't you?"
"How did you know I was infested with them, too?" Harry asked, shocked.
"Merlin's beard, Harry. You don't really think I handed you that magazine to help out your old school chum, do you? You exhibited so many of the signs of wrackspurt infestation that it would have been nearly criminal of me to let you go without help."
"Then why the subterfuge, Healer? Why not just come out and tell me?" Healer McIntyre chuckled a bit as she looked at the rather accidental hero sitting in front of her.
"When would you have gotten around to it? When would you have taken time out of your busy schedule chasing the dregs of humanity to get yourself some help? The only way this would have worked is by making you think you were doing something for someone else. "
"You sussed all of that out of me after three sessions?"
"You're rather an open book, Harry. Now, since you're certainly going back to see Madame Lovegood about the wrackspurts, let's focus on more pressing issues. Whilst having this 'brilliant,' as you put it, sex with Luna, were you thinking of your mother or your ex-wife...?"
Harry wondered if his 15 Galleons were refundable as he sat in silence for the balance of the session. He was anxious to get back to Cornwall to pay a visit on Luna – official business, of course. He picked up a bottle of Lovage-pollinated mead and a bouquet of daffodils and daisies for the trip, which he reckoned would help to put a nice shine on the rather unpleasant task of asking after Draco Malfoy. And, of course, the reservations at the bistro in magical Tintagel (Harry had procured a private table) would provide a much more pleasant place to discuss this case than Luna's office. Harry had been by a couple of times since his first unexpected visit, but somehow working on his own wrackspurt problem had slipped both their minds each time by morning.
This time though, Harry was determined to have his wrackspurt problem soundly put to bed. He appeared at Luna's Cornish cottage, and as he was twenty minutes early, he sat in Luna's surprisingly masculine waiting room. Thumbing through a back-issue of The Quibbler, Harry was pleasantly shocked to see Luna standing next to his chair, clad only in a bright yellow bath towel. She plopped herself down on Harry's lap, smiling even more brightly than usual as she placed a firm kiss on Harry's mouth.
"Oh, how lovely," she said, "flowers! And here I was thinking I was underdressed. Ooh, and '16 was such a lovely year for lovage, too!"
Harry couldn't help but smile himself, at least for a moment. He began to reach for the tantalizingly loose knot holding Luna's towel, but remembered that that's how they'd forgotten to work on his wrackspurts during his other visits. After mollifying Luna's pout with a peck on her lips, Harry explained.
"Wrackspurts, then to the supper reservations I've made to discuss Malfoy, then fun-time, Luna. We've not gotten to the wrackspurts at all yet, and I'd really like those buggers out of my ears."
"Really? Do I have to wait, Harry?" Luna asked, fumbling with the knot in her towel.
"Really," was Harry's reply.
Luna leaned in to kiss him, and as soon as Harry closed his eyes to accept the kiss, he was startled nearly out of his chair by a *pop*. Harry opened his eyes with a start, and saw only a bright yellow bath towel on the floor where Luna had been standing. He flicked his wand out of its holster and into his hand, silently casting a Hominum Revelo and a quick scan for residual magic. His scan showed an Apparition, but no use of a port-key, so if he were to find out who had abducted (and hopefully clothed) Luna, finding that information in the cottage's wards was his only hope. The windows began to rattle as Harry poked and prodded through the tangle of wards, getting noisier as he got closer to their centre. But he'd sooner be dead before he gave up on this task, windows be damned.
Harry was just able to save the wards from collapsing in on themselves after being startled by Luna tapping him on the shoulder. She was standing right next to him, safe and sound, clad in a lovely set of periwinkle robes with pale yellow trim, holding her bath towel and looking at him rather pityingly.
"I think it's best that we take care of those wrackspurts now, Harry."
Luna led Harry into a room that was lit only by four candles which surrounded a padded table with a pillow at one end. She asked him to remove his robes and boots, leaving him clad in only a black tank-top and trousers. He climbed onto the table, placed his head on the pillow and closed his eyes as he felt Luna gently caressing his temples. The sensations Harry felt as the wrackspurts were leaving his ears could only be described as otherworldly. The silence that replaced the creatures washed over him, starting with his head, then moving into his shoulders, and finally encompassing his entire body. In that silence, Harry felt a palpable sense of ease and comfort. For the first time in his nearly forty years, Harry felt as though all was well. His face blossomed into a broad grin that was so foreign, he felt as though he'd pulled a muscle in his jaw. And when he opened his eyes, he saw Luna standing over him, her face encircled in a halo of candlelight, and his smile opened wider as she bent down to kiss him gently.
"I should make a note of that. Wear the low-cut robes when administering the wrackspurt cure. It seems to have quite an effect," she said in her trademark lilting voice, giving Harry a cheeky wink. "But we really ought to go. Didn't you have reservations for us?"
Harry rushed to Cornwall when he heard that Luna had called the Aurors for help in dealing with a stalker. It had been a month and a half since Draco had finished his wrackspurt treatment, and he hadn't heard from ol' Ferret Face since. Yet as he Apparated to Luna's cottage, there was his former nemesis, wand to his throat having cast a Sonorus, singing (disturbingly off-key) "You've lost that Nargle feeling." Harry cast a quick Quietus at the other man.
"Damn it, Malfoy! I thought we'd cured you of this anti-social rubbish! What gives?"
"It's her, Potter!" Draco called back. "I have to see her! It's the only way I can be saved!" Draco's voice was nearly pleading in tone.
"She's got a boyfriend, and I really don't think that's a situation you need to be involved in. Not with your current problems at least."
"But, but you don't understand!" Draco continued, his voice going from pleading to a high-pitched whinge. "She is the answer to those problems. I've already done everything else; sold the Manor, opened an orphanage for unwanted Squibs, what else can I do? Astoria's not going to take me back, so if I'm to be redeemed; it's going to have to be by Luna. By sweet, pureblooded Luna."
"Wait –" Harry had fully lost track of Draco's raving, but something sounded more off than usual. "What's this 'redeemed' rubbish about? Just stop the anti-social behaviour, and we're all better off."
"You wouldn't understand, Potter," Draco explained in a fervent tone. "You were born good. You found love easily. You never needed to be redeemed in the first place!"
"What in the name of Helga's handbag are you on about?"
"The idea came from your niece, Potter. Since she started dating Scorpius, she's convinced him that the only way for me to live a normal life was for some nice witch to show me the true power of Love. The Redeeming Power of Love! Potter, don't you see? This is my only way out of this life I've been living!"
Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose under his spectacles. "I have about three dozen nieces, Malfoy. Which of them is dating your son?"
"It's Rose, which is how I know it's a brilliant plan." Harry placed his whole face in his palm upon hearing this. Rose had inherited her mother's sense of propriety, as well as her romanticism, but she'd also inherited her father's intellect and study habits. Draco had made a serious miscalculation.
"Malfoy, you can't possibly be serious."
"Of course I'm serious, Potter, I'm wearing leather trousers, aren't I?!" Harry took another look at Draco, and yes, it was true. He was wearing a rather expensive pair of dragonhide trousers, which did nothing for the near-mid-life paunch he had developed. The receding hairline just completed the cliché. Harry sighed. If Draco was going to go to these lengths on his silly scheme to experience "The Redeeming Power of Love," then he was going to have to take another tack.
"Alright then, Draco. Let's talk about this a bit. Why Luna, of all people?"
"You've seen her. She's gorgeous, isn't she? With her shining yellow hair, her nightingale-song voice, those smoky-grey eyes... Oh, and she's just about the sweetest creature imaginable, isn't she, with her made-up creatures and funny ways of looking at the world..." Draco's eyes had clouded over in reverie. Harry was starting to fear for Draco's sanity. He needed to be very careful with his words, lest he say something that would put Draco over the edge. Alas...
"Draco, Luna's not exactly available at the moment. In fact, I'm the one that she's been seeing. You see, so you'll be able to – "
"Reducto!" shouted Draco, and Harry rolled out of the way of the oncoming spell, casting a quick shield to deal with the oncoming spray of loose turf.
"Malfoy, what the hell are you playing at?" Harry shouted, as he fended off two more Reducto spells using a sturdier shield.
"I'll have her, Potter!" Draco shouted back, dodging Harry's Relashio spells. "She'll be mine, I'll be redeemed, and there's not a thing you can do about it! Sectumsempra!"
As soon as Draco cast that deadly spell, Harry knew that no fewer than five Aurors would be on their way to arrest him for attempted murder. But he also knew that he needed to have won that duel by the time they got there, so that his subordinates wouldn't see him in a position of weakness. At a point one-half metre to Draco's left, Harry pointed his wand and shouted "Crusta Arienissima!," which caused the shale in the surrounding earth to transfigure into one enormous banana peel. Quickly thereafter, Harry cast a Relashio on Draco's right side, causing Draco to feint left, where he was met with a rather nastily adult version of a Rictumsempra, which caused Draco to laugh himself into convulsions, slipping on the banana peel, allowing Harry to tie him up in magical bindings not five seconds before the other Aurors greeted him with a salute.
"Aurors!" Harry commanded, as the five young Aurors straightened up hastily, "take this suspect to holding. I believe he knows the way." A cacophony of 'Yes, Sirs' followed as Draco was rather unceremoniously hauled away to spend a good long time in prison for the attempted murder of an Auror.
Luna peered out her cottage window upon hearing an end to the chaos outside. She saw Harry waving his wand, cleaning up some of the divots the duel's spells had made in the earth, so she grabbed two bottles of butterbeer from the icebox on her way outside to greet him.
"Playing the hero again, are we, Harry?" she asked with a sardonic smirk before planting a kiss on his cheek and handing him a bottle.
"It's what I do, ma'am," he grumbled back in a dreadful impression of an American accent, uncorking his beverage and quaffing a healthy gulp. "Thanks. Forgot how much duelling a sociopath can take out of you." Harry took another gulp, and then looked at Luna thoughtfully.
"The one thing I don't get about all this, though, is why that wasn't me. If my wrackspurt case was as bad as Malfoy's, why didn't I turn into a raving lunatic, too – nothing personal, mind." Luna chuckled.
"Harry, it's not that simple. Draco's wrackspurts were cleared up just as yours were. But long before he was infested, he exhibited dreadful behaviour, even in his first years at Hogwarts. People like that don't change easily, Harry, wrackspurts or no wrackspurts." Harry couldn't help but chuckle. "What's that for?" Luna asked.
"Do you know what his master plan was after he won your heart, Luna? Your 'great love' was somehow going to redeem him and turn him into a 'better man.' Isn't that just the end-all?"
Luna snickered along with Harry, but she was also shaking her head darkly. "Of course, Harry. But even as we stand here laughing, some poor witch is getting together Draco's bail money thinking she'll be the one to change him. But let's get you cleaned up and into some muggle clothes. There's a lovely sushi restaurant in the West End I want to try before the show."